Karl Kautsky's writings on the French Revolution were crucial to the construction not only of the Marxist interpretation of the Revolution, which was perhaps the most important reference point for the historiography of that event during the 20th century, but even of Marxism itself as a comprehensive, systematic theory partly based on historical studies. However, these writings have been neglected and practically forgotten for decades, mainly because of the general rejection of Kautsky's theories after the October Revolution of 1917, in Marxist as well as non-Marxist circles. Studying these writings, spanning roughly four decades from 1889 till 1930, we may see dynamic interrelations between historical study, theory construction and contemporary political intervention. Kautsky's approach to such key Marxist concepts as class and state prove to bemuch more subtle and nuanced than what has commonly been assumed, incorporating the results of historical study rather than pure social theory. Yet, his account does contain important internal tensions and contradictions between agency and objective conditions and between the historical material and the normative and political perspective of the historiographer. Several of these internal tensions were carried on into mainstream Marxist accounts of the Revolution, with important historiographical as well as political consequences.
History of European Ideas, 2009, Vol 35, Issue 4, p. 450-464
Historieteori; Historieskrivning; Karl Kautsky; marxisme; Revolution; Den franske revolution, 1789-99; Theories of History; History writing; Marxism; The French Revolution, 1789-99